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uptown1227.jpgAfter a year-and-a-half of construction, pedestrians stroll through Uptown without any reminder of torn-up sidewalks and detours other than a beautiful new business district.
By Trista Steers
Larson Newspapers

After a year-and-a-half of construction, pedestrians stroll through Uptown without any reminder of torn-up sidewalks and detours other than a beautiful new business district.

The city of Sedona’s Uptown Enhancement Project converted Uptown into a modern, pedestrian-friendly shopping area.

“I can hardly even remember what it [Uptown] was like before,” John Davis, co-owner of Cheers, said.

Wider sidewalks and improvements by individual shop owners enhance the Uptown experience and allow for better window shopping, according to Davis.

“It helps the whole pedestrian flow,” Davis said.

Tiffany Construction completed the Uptown Enhancement Project construction June 29, approximately nine months after the original projected completion date.

City Manager Eric Levitt said the project could have been completed in the spring, but the city didn’t want to disrupt peak tourist season.

“We moved it back two or three months to avoid the spring break season,” Levitt said.

Crews finished major

construction on Hwy. 89A on Dec. 22. Apple Road was finished approximately a month later, leaving sealing and striping of the highway to be completed.

According to Levitt, city staff knew sealing and striping could be done in April or May but chose not to finish then because of the high volume of tourists in the area.

Instead, city staff aimed to complete the project during a small window of opportunity — between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July, when fewer visitors come to Sedona.

Davis, who owns several shops in Uptown, said any project of that size will have issues and merchants will suffer hardships, but he stayed positive.

“It’s just inevitable that there will be delays, and they did the best they could,” Davis said.

Final cost of construction was approximately $3.6 million, up about 7 to 9 percent from the projected $3.3 million price tag. The cost of the entire project, including design, came in around $4.3 million.

“Typically, on our projects our goal is to be at 10 percent or less on change orders,” Levitt said.

Increased construction costs came when crews encountered obstacles in the field.

In particular, Levitt said stormwater drainage relocation on Jordan Road increased costs.

Davis said he is thankful for the city’s willingness to spend money on Uptown.

“How can you turn down that type of investment?” Davis said. “As merchants, we couldn’t afford to do this ourselves.”

Davis did, however, incorporate his pedestrian plaza into the project. In front of Cheers on Hwy. 89A and Forest Road, tables and umbrellas offer pedestrians shade and a place

to relax.

Other business owners made improvements separate of the Uptown Enhancement Project that add to the area as well.

Tom Gilomen constructed a plaza in front of the Cowboy Club and L’Auberge de Sedona is constructing a plaza in front of Orchards. Mel Felsot put an awning on the Felsot Building and placed benches along the sidewalk.

Levitt said private improvements helped make the finished project what it is.

It’s hard to go into an existing area and recreate it, but with cooperation from merchants, Levitt said it turned out great.

“The merchants were extremely cooperative the whole time,” Levitt said. “Considering all the factors, we worked really well together.”

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